Last Friday, our office featured an employee craft sale. As I stood in the room looking at what had been created by people that had nothing to do with their dayjobs, I resolved that I should also get a hobby. But a hobby that I wasn't going to turn into a job. My superpower is turning hobbies into jobs. (Well, it's really more like a curse.)
A couple months ago, some of my friends started listening to me about music and I was like well, maybe music is my hobby. This is probably incorrect, because I got most of my music this year from Maggie Stiefvater. (Unless I was at a concert or the band followed me on Twitter.) You can also go to Maggie's tumblr and impress your friends with your musics. I won't tell them you, if you don't.
Listening to music isn't exactly the kind of thing you can set up a table at a craft show to share. But I want to show some intent here; something a little more accessible than the playlists I put together for manuscripts on soundcloud.
I thought I could show off my new hobby by making a list of the Top 10 albums of 2013. Only I couldn't come up with 10 albums that I had in heavy rotation that came out in 2013. (Apparently, hobbies are more challenging than I thought.) For example, I bought Of Monsters And Men's My Head is An Animal this year, but it came out much earlier. Same with the Foxes tracks that aren't Youth and Shaking Heads. Also, I'm just getting to know of Verona's The White Apple (Deluxe Edition).
But I've got five albums that came out in 2013 you should own. That's a valiant effort, right? Right. I'll do better next year.
1. Bad Blood by Bastille
The might be the first album I've played in heavy-rotation that eight months later I can hit play and smile like I'm listening to it for the first time. (It's basically the soundtrack to my year.) Bad Blood is an expertly arranged set list from a band with a big, complex sound touching on the familiar but immediately identifiable as... well, Bastille. No one else could've made this album composed of lyrics that appear on the surface to be simple, but contain allusions and metaphors. All of songs do more than tell stories; they invite the listener to tell her own stories with them.
I could be soulmates with this album. We might need to get married and have awkwardly dancing children.
2. Tunnel Vision by Little Daylight
Speaking of Perfection: Little Daylight. This opening act on the Bastille tour immediately caught the attention of everyone listening at the Toronto show. Little Daylight played five songs and it felt like a full set. Do you want to experience music-love at first listen? Tunnel Vision is an EP of five glorious tracks that will bring about world peace. Just put it on repeat. Their forthcoming debut album and the Foxes debut album are the reasons I'd like to skip ahead to 2014.
3. Pure Heroine by Lorde
Lorde doesn't need my help. In fact, everyone already knew who she was long before I did because I spent months convinced Royals was sung by Natasha Bedingfield. (I enjoy the occasional Natasha Bedingfield song, but I rarely enjoy her albums.) Then I found out that no, Lorde was someone else. Pure Heroine is a mix of hip-hop and synth-pop, with songs about being a young woman today who was very exposed to the class divide and now exists on the opposite side of it. (And maybe isn't always comfortable there, but I could be reading more into it than is actually on the page.) I appreciate the stories in her songs, and the stories I can tell with her songs.
4. Hemiplegia by Haerts
Bastille, if they were fronted by Stevie Nicks. (Yes, I know who she is and not because of that Glee episode.) Haerts will get into your blood; you'll find your foot tapping as if you were listening to Little Daylight. It's an orchestral, grand kind of sound and the four songs tease out that an album would be a treat for the ears. Listening to this EP is like hunting lost dreams through the streets of Los Angeles during a summer evening.
5. Volume 3 by She & Him
True story: I wrote an entire manuscript almost exclusively listening to Vol 2 from She & Him. I like their old California Beach AM radio sound, but this album is fuller somehow. More stereo and less mono maybe. There's definitely that sound of when rock and country weren't that different, but not in the same way as Taylor Swift where country became rock again. The tracks are a mix of original songs and a few covers, like usual, and again the same upbeat tempo with melancholic lyrics.